Knock Off is Rhonda Pollero's debut mystery and it's written under her "real" name. She's published oodles with Harlequin Intrigue under the name Kelsey Roberts.
Knock Off is pleasant enough, but something about it feels off to me and since I just finished it I'm not sure I'll be able to articulate well. OK, so I'll try. Just for you all.
Finley Anderson Tanner (yeah, F.A.T.) is an estates and trusts paralegal with zero ambition in life unless it involves bargain shopping for slightly damaged designer duds. She cruises eBay while in the office. She's in the habit of taking long lunch breaks, and at 5:01PM she's running for the door as if the Hounds of Hell were nipping at her heels. That is until one of the lawyers in the firm dumps a case in her lap.
Stacy Evans is a "real" widow - which in Palm Beach, Florida means she's over 30 and genuinely upset her husband is dead. The man died when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car and Stacy is convinced it was no accident. No, he was murdered! The firm wants Finley to pat Stacy on the head, mutter soothing words and handle the estate business. Instead, Finley finds herself investigating - and the more she snoops, the more she thinks that Stacy Evans' suspicions aren't just the ramblings of a grieving widow.
It takes a while to warm up to Finley, and some of this falls under personal prejudice - so go with it. I have a hard time sympathizing with someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, has mountains of credit card debt, and given the story arc, easily spends $40 a day at Starbucks. Hey, shopping can be fun (witness my TBR), but a budget is a beautiful thing. I'm probably showing my frugal Midwestern underpants here - but while I admire Finley for her love of a good sale, I have a hard time liking her. She's a bit bitchy - even if she does have a knack for turning a funny phrase.
But something remarkable does happen. Over the course of the story, Finley does grow up - some. She starts taking her job seriously. Damn, she's even showing up to work early and snooping on the weekends! Now, if she could just keep her hormones in check. Her boyfriend, Patrick, is the "perfect guy" but he doesn't get her blood boiling. No, the blood boiling is thanks to the investigator she hired to help with the case, Liam McGarrity, a former cop with bad boy tattooed on his forehead.
The mystery is pretty good, although the resolution is a bit of a letdown. It felt rushed. Also, I just couldn't buy the bad guy. Maybe with some more exploration? Again, it felt rushed. Also, Liam is a big ole' question mark. Why did he leave the police force? Is he boffing his ex-wife? Is she even his ex? All questions not answered, but one assumes will be addressed in future installments.
All in all, I didn't hate it, and I didn't love it. Will I read the next book in the series? Jury is still out - but probably. Work has been feeding my cozy mystery addiction for the last several months now and I don't see that letting up anytime soon. Final Grade = C. Again - didn't love it, didn't hate it, so average.